Hayim, Gila J. Books

Dr. Gila J. Hayim is Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Hayim is the author of several books and articles on European and American social thought, ranging from Hegel to Sartre, Habermas, Luhmann and others.

Instability, Complexity and Cultural Change
2006 0-7734-5745-3
This book makes accessible the new theory of autopoiesis, while developing transferable social-psychological frameworks and applying them to our entry into the age of complexity.

Autopoiesis is a theory of complex forms of life, of divergence and instability. Its methodology and vocabulary reflect the volatile and restless nature of our times. It takes the hyper-differentiation ushered by the powerful changes in our technical and communicative lives, and the erosion of hegemonic centers in culture and self, and shows how these forces push us into modes of existence – of risk and promise – far beyond semblance of familiarity.

The work illustrates how key autopoietic markers – codes, distinctions, self-observation, system communications, intimacy and paradox, contingency and self-maintenance, bifurcation, closure, interdependence, etc., both in regard to activity systems and to subjective experience – go through dramatic shifts, deploying new self-descriptions, exfoliating outward into volatile multicentric realities. The work turns theory – typically bent on capturing endurance – into indeterminate and creative self-descriptions about shifting social reality, about personal identity struggling to coalesce into new modes of fulfillment, and a theory of social change in which the subjective forces of passion and the exterior forms of sociality interlock.

Applying the autopoietic perspective to the new world of communicative technologies and new social adaptations, and drawing on the works chiefly that of Luhmann, and also of Pareto, Habermas, Castelles, Merry Melucci, Beck, Nietzsche and others, the author identifies tendencies toward newly emergent cultural modalities, namely, the perfect nihilist, the comfort-seeker and the re-enchanter.

In depicting the thematic shifts from industrial to risk-society and the present social complex, the work concludes with a theory of bifurcation in which the social dynamics of complexity and our endemic condition of chronic-revision, may paradoxically generate horizontal autonomies, enhancing flexibility and tolerance toward new ethics of interdependence.